UNEP poised to stir green energy
revolution in E. Africa
Oct 10, 2007 - The Associated Press
A U.N.-backed initiative is set to harvest environment-friendly
hydroelectric power from millions of tea and sugar
cane growers across East Africa, U.N. officials
In two separate but related projects, both tea
and sugar cane farmers will benefit, the U.N. Environment
Program officials said.
Sugar farmers will take part in a cogeneration
project funded by the Global Environment Facility.
They will use waste from the sugar industry to generate
electricity, which in turn will fuel economic and
rural growth in an environmentally safer way.
The initiative, the first of its kind in Africa,
will introduce small-scale energy appliances that
allow farmers in seven African countries to access
The officials said by using hydroelectric power
plants in tea plantations and turning the waste
produced by sugar cane into power, the new projects
will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions while
spreading clean energy to rural areas in East and
"Those who enjoy a spoonful of sugar in their favorite
day-time drink have double-cause to celebrate,"
said Stephen Karekezi, a director of Cogeneration
for Africa, a UNEP/GEF-sponsored project.
These projects build on the successes with the
cogeneration in the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius,
where up to 40 percent of the country's electricity
needs are met by waste by-products from the sugar
industry, the officials said.
"Tea is known to be good for you, now it is also
getting better for the environment," said UNEP Executive
Director Achim Steiner. "The decision by some countries
in East Africa to establish contracts that allow
unconventional generators of electricity to sell
surplus power back to the Grid has opened up a raft
of new opportunities for cleaner and renewable energy
The projects, experts said, offer the chance to
develop new forms of indigenous energy generation
that will assist with the development in rural areas
and help overcome poverty, reduce dependency on
often-imported and expensive fossil fuels while
having the spin-off benefit of contributing to the
reduction of greenhouse gases.
As well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the
hydropower will reduce energy costs, enhance the
African tea industry's global competitiveness, and
spread clean electricity to rural communities, the
In December, governments will meet in Bali to define
rules for a new international framework for emissions
reductions as the 1997 Kyoto Protocol is due to
expire at the end of 2012.
The $100 million initiative is being spearheaded
by UNEP in collaboration with the African Development
Bank and with funding from the Global Environment
Among the countries that have already endorsed
the initiative are Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique,
Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.